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Chinese TV station to launch

Televisions on display at a store in O’Russey market in Phonm Penh in 2012
Televisions on display at a store in O’Russey market in Phonm Penh in 2012. Chinese company Yunnan Mobile Digital TV Corporation confirmed plans to launch a new digital station in Phnom Penh. JOSEPH POCS

Chinese TV station to launch

Cambodia could soon get its first Chinese-run digital television station, the latest local project hailing from a country that represents one of the Kingdom's largest foreign investors.

Yu Hua, deputy director of Yunnan Mobile Digital TV Corporation, based in China’s Yunnan province, met with Cambodia’s Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith on Monday to discuss the venture, according to state-run news agency Agence Kampuchea Presse.

The report said the company will commence broadcasting “soon” in Phnom Penh and Kampong Cham, Siem Reap and Battambang provinces, in both Khmer and Chinese languages.

Several Chinese news agencies and newspapers operate in Cambodia, but television marks a departure from the norm. Details on programming and launch dates for the station were unavailable. Kanharith did not immediately respond to requests for comment about whether the station would offer a subscription-only cable service or not.

In the AKP report, he was quoted as pledging support to the company in the form of assistance from Cambodia’s own technical experts. Yunnan Mobile could not be reached for comment.

Representatives from two of Cambodia’s largest TV broadcasters had mixed reactions. While endorsing healthy competition, they expressed concerns over market share, advertising revenue and quality content.

CEO of One TV Vora Ouk welcomed the station but questioned the seriousness of the investment and the content offered by television stations without local experience.

“I am not sure if they [Yunnan Mobile] have an advertising business model or a subscriber business model.”

“[But] in the end television depends more on the content . . . If they are serious about quality content and a permanent investment, it can be a good investment,” Ouk said. “Cambodia’s television market is small and a very easy market to penetrate.”

Senior sales executive at Cambodia Television Network Huot Nall also welcomed the new addition to Cambodia’s media, citing Japanese company TriAsia Group’s recent purchase of a 70 per cent share in Thai broadcaster TV3.

“You must support a free market,” Nall said. “When a newcomer arrives, it exposes our weaknesses and then we can improve on our services. If we had no competitors, we would not see our weaknesses.”
But Nall added that more competition from foreign media organisations would mean fewer advertising dollars for the local market.

General manager at Indochina Research Karl Johan Remoy said advertisers are also not yet willing to front hefty media costs.

“Companies do not want to pay, are not ready to pay too much for advertising.”

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